The last 15 months has been filled with the strangest weather patterns we’ve seen in Ohio. Last winter was one of the top in snowfall for the area. We’re talking 6-8″ of fresh snow every few days. The state legislature had even reduced the number of “calamity days” prior to the school year starting and then had to rewrite the rules because of how much snow we were getting and how schools felt like they were forced to stay open on days when it seemed too dangerous to drive. It seemed like Spring would never come.
Then Spring came and it started to rain. And rain. And it got to the point that I wish I would’ve bought stock in an umbrella factory. It turned out to be one of the wettest Spring, Summer and Fall on record.
Then Winter came, or at least it said so on the calendar. More rain and only a few snow storms.
Which gets us to this weekend – the last weekend of winter – with its 78 degree weather (heck, that’s warmer than some Memorial Day weekends around here) and summer-like thunderstorms. I was getting the itch to get outside to work and the Country Boy was more than happy to give me jobs to do.
My tasks mainly consisted of:
- Picking up sticks. This is a disheartening job, actually. Because, no matter how many loads of sticks I picked up – and I picked up 9 giant loads – there seems to be just as many more sticks still on the ground mocking me. Riley hung out with me while I was working and I tried to talk him into picking up sticks. I actually had a very in-depth conversation with him about the topic, extolling the virtues of such labor and the benefits of learning how to accomplish such tasks. Then I remembered that: a) Riley probably only heard “…blah blah blah, Riley. Blah blah blah blah blah…” b) My neighbors near the road, however, heard me speaking passionately to my dog about his learning to pick up sticks and now think I am really crazy and c) I can’t even get the girls to pick up sticks with me and they understand what language I’m speaking. How can I expect Riley to do it? It was a depressing revelation.
- Trying to get a dog out of the pond when he was supposed to be dry so we could leave
for a few hours, get him into the pond when he was so muddy that I thought he was a chocolate lab, and avoiding the post-pond shake off. That last part is tough because apparently Riley likes me so much that he wants to get right back at my side when he comes out of the pond. I’m trying to see the love in that. I really am. However, considering he was in the pond nearly three dozen times over the course of the weekend, that little love gift got old.
- Comforting a wet dog after he had a run-in with Spike. Riley learned what happens when you try to sniff the back side of a mule – you end up with a hoof coming at you fast. He, thankfully, didn’t get a major kick. Still, it was enough to make him want to get some soothing love from me. We tried warning him before to stay away from the big guys, but some lessons he apparently needed to learn for himself. Hopefully, he’ll think twice before sniffing any other back ends.
- Digging ditches. Water has been an issue at the farm at some level or another all year. (Remember the flood?) We’ve tried to help the drainage flow out better, but the weather has just been too wet to make any major headway. There is no way the County Boy can get any heavy equipment (or even light equipment) back to the pasture to dig ditches or put in a drain. He’d get stuck before he even got out to where the problem is located. That didn’t stop us from grabbing hand shovels and spending hours hand-digging ditches. (In reality, it should have stopped me. I don’t know what I was thinking. Just typing that sentence – “spend hours hand-digging” – makes me shiver. How did I think this was going to end well?) I started off trying to fix the small ditch he and Eli had dug back in November to help with the drainage down our driveway and at the street. Then I went in to the back pasture with the Country Boy to make channels to get the standing water out of the pasture and into the small stream/low spot that travels down through some neighboring property and towards the road.
One nice aspect of lots of rain and no real ground freezing is that the soil is complete mush. That makes it easy to dig into with a hand shovel (Hurray!). It also makes it sound like cranberry jelly coming out of a can at Thanksgiving when you pick your shovel up and makes your boots sink ankle-deep with every step (Not so good…).
Hours we were back there.
Shoveling, slurping, sinking, splashing. A never-ending rhythm.
Shoveling, slurping, sinking, splashing.
Thank God the sun eventually went down otherwise we would’ve been out there even longer. I don’t know that my limbs could have lasted another minute. As it was, my arms felt like jello and my legs took a while to adjust to walking normally after the suction-walking I had been doing in the bogs of the back pasture.
The Country Boy didn’t seem phased one bit. “I do this all of the time, baby,” as he put he arms around me for a hug.
With my arms hanging limply by my side unwilling to listen to my brain or to move one more inch, the best I could do was a swinging pat on his backside with an “I love you.”
Thankfully, unlike Spike, the Country Boy doesn’t kick when someone messes with his backend.